Education and Society in Jamaica

Book Cover: Education and Society in Jamaica

This Publication is not currently in Print or available in Electronic Form. Should there be sufficient interest, we will explore the feasibility of obtaining the necessary permission to make it available in electronic form, either free or at the lowest cost.

First published in Savacou No. 5 1971. Reprinted with permission in Sociology of Education: A Caribbean Reader. Edited by Peter M. E. Figueroa and Ganga Persaud: Oxford University Press 1976. Pp 47-66

In the 1960s Michael G. Smith had defined West Indian societies as plural and composed of three sections defined by colour -White, Brown, and Black – which were held together by force. One the other hand Raymond T Smith that West Indian societies were stratified into social segments sharing common values. This paper described Jamaican society at the end of the 1960s as being composed of four social strata Upper, Traditional Middle, Emerging Middle, and Lower which were multiracial to different degrees. While the Upper, Traditional Middle and the Lower strata shared many features described by M. G. Smith, the Emerging Middle Class was new and therefore did not fit neatly into plural sections. Whether the Jamaican society was shifting from a plural past to a heterogeneous future was left to time to tell. The paper then examined enrolment in public and private schools at early childhood, primary, secondary and further education levels attended by children of four strata described. Using data from empirical studies the paper analyzed the socio-economic and racial backgrounds of children attending different types of public schools. It also examined the proportion of students of the four strata attending high schools based on government policy of merit as the basis for access to public secondary schools. The paper also discussed public perception of falling standards because Government policy of expanding access to Cambridge examination passes in the English Language for the period 1949 to 1970. The paper concludes with a discussion of dysfunctionality as a source of evolutionary change in the Jamaican education system.

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UWI’s Contribution to Caribbean Education

An Assessment

Book Cover: UWI’s Contribution to Caribbean Education

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In The University of the West Indies 40th Anniversary Lectures. Editor. F R. Augier. The University of the West Indies, Mona: Kingston 1990. Pp 47-64

In assessing the UWI’s contribution to education over the period 1948 to 1988, this essay follows two main lines: what a university is and what it does or stated alternatively, its being and its actions. In terms of being universities follow two main functions elite and popular. Its elite function has three main elements: providing a literal education; creating new knowledge and selecting and certifying a social elite. Its popular function has two elements providing places to as many students to continue education beyond high school and to provide useful knowledge and services. Using this schema the essay assessments to the contribution that UWI has made in the Commonwealth Caribbean in the field of education over the period of its first 40 years. The essay concludes with the observation that Caribbean policy makers, planners, and educators have been operating largely within the conceptual framework of the colonial past and the development hypothesis. With respect to the development hypothesis, Miller confesses to being an unrepentant agnostic because the latter confuses more than it clarifies and perpetuates much more than it changes.  The challenge of the UWI was and would continue to be helping leaders and people to think through this dilemma and paradox.

UWI’s Contribution to Caribbean Education

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Reading Achievement: The Impact of Two Projects

The Impact of Two Projects

Book Cover: Reading Achievement: The Impact of Two Projects

This Publication is not currently in Print or available in Electronic Form. Should there be sufficient interest, we will explore the feasibility of obtaining the necessary permission to make it available in electronic form, either free or at the lowest cost.

There were two major projects that were implemented in the 1990s which had components designed to improve reading achievements of students in Grades 7 to 9. First was the Curriculum Component of the Reform of Secondary Education, (ROSE) by the Government of Jamaica with support from the World Bank. The ROSE curriculum defined four reading levels of students completing primary schooling and developed curriculum and reading materials to improve the reading achievement of students at the first three levels. The fourth level was reading above grade level. Second, was the Jamaica 2000, a bottom-up reform initiative, led by the Jamaica Computer Society Education Foundation with support from the HEART Trust which used Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) as delivered by Auto-Skills software, to promote remedial reading instruction to students in Grades 7 to 9 who were not functionally literate.

The two-fold objective of Reading Achievement: the Impact of two Projects was to determine if there was any empirical evidence to suggest that CAI made any additional contribution to improvement in reading beyond the ROSE curriculum and to identify characteristics of students, who at the end of Grade 9, were still functionally illiterate despite the efforts of both projects or of ROSE alone. The design of the study was to select two matched rural All Age Schools; two matched rural New Secondary Schools and two matched rural Comprehensive High Schools one of each being the beneficiary of both Projects and one of each which only had the benefit of the ROSE Project. All students entering Grade 7 in these six schools in September 1994 were tested using the Nelson’s Reading Achievement Test, again in June 1995 at the end of Grade 7 and again in June 1997 at the end of Grade 9. The Nelson Reading Test was administered using prescribed time set by the publishers of the test, indicating reading power, and on extended time indicating reading capacity. Students who were still functionally illiterate, by extended time, at the end of Grade 9 were assessed on a battery of cognitive and other instruments by the Mico Care Centre.

Reading Achievement: the Impact of two Projects reviewed all major studies that measured reading achievement in Jamaica at the end of primary schooling between 1971 and 1999 and reported the findings of this study in relation to its objectives.

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Teacher Development in the Caribbean

Book Cover: Teacher Development in the Caribbean

Teacher Development in the Caribbean showed that despite the impressive gains that were made in education in the Caribbean between the 1950s and the 1980s because of global political, economic and technological developments there was no celebration but instead governments across the region established mechanisms to reform their education systems. Task Forces, Working Groups, and Project Team carried out widespread consultations with stakeholders and actors before embarking on reforms. Teacher development became a priority not only because of the critical importance of teachers to education by because of the well-known perennial cycle of teacher bashing followed by teacher veneration common in the Caribbean.

Using the social criteria of ethnicity, gender, social class and occupational prestige five teaching occupations are identified in the Caribbean. Social changes in two of these occupations, public high school, and public primary school teachers, are traced over the last half of the twentieth century.

The Paper then proceeds to discuss teachers and teacher development in the Caribbean from the following perspectives:

  • Terms and conditions of service in relation to the governance of education systems
  • The structures of teaching occupations
  • School management using different models of school organisation
  • Eclectic practices, given the fact that Caribbean Education has been part of Western Education for more than 350 years.
  • Pre-service teacher education
  • In-service teacher education
  • Continuing professional development provided by Ministries of Education, teachers’ unions and NGOs.
  • Teacher supervision
  • Teacher evaluation
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Feminization of Elementary School Teaching in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

First published titled The Feminisation of Elementary School Teaching in the Commonwealth Caribbean. (1998) Institute of Education Annual Volume 1: Editor Ruby King. Institute of Education University of the West Indies, Kingston Jamaica: Pp 3-42.

There are few studies that have been done of the feminization of teaching outside of North America. This study traces the gender composition of elementary school teachers in private and public schools in the Commonwealth Caribbean over the 150 odd-year period 1837 to 1995. It uses the Latrobe Report of 1837-38 as its base and official reports and documents thereafter. The paper documents and critiques the explanation of the feminization of teaching in North America and offers an alternative conceptual framework. It then documents the gender composition of elementary school teachers in private and public schools in the Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St Vincent, Trinidad and also Tobago. It then examines the feminization of elementary school teaching in the Commonwealth Caribbean within the conceptual frameworks outlined in the study.

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